Opinion: Kind hearts, good sports

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You could forgive the mighty Blades for having other things on their minds this week. Like a trip down the M1 to Wembley.

But in advance of the big date on Sunday they found time to turn out in force to delight a very special group of fans.

Eighteen players and manager Nigel Clough spent time at the bedsides of poorly youngsters in Sheffield Children’s Hospital, chatting and cheering up the patients.

The children may not be able to make it to watch their heroes take on the Tigers on the hallowed turf, but this private match will have been just as exciting.

Professional footballers are feted and put on a pedestal by our sports-mad nation and too often they turn out to be heroes with feet of clay whose off-pitch antics attract lurid headlines.

Not so the Blades, whose visit this week to put a smile on young faces is part of a regular commitment to giving something back to the community that so reveres their sporting prowess. The team’s link with the Children’s Hospital is a long and genuine one. Many of these young players will be fathers themselves so the link will be one close to their hearts and the visits will be as rewarding to them as they are exciting for the young patients.

And football is not the only sport showing off its caring side this month.

This year’s Cue Ball, which kicks off the 17-day World Snooker Championships at The Crucible, has chosen the city’s Women of Steel appeal as its nominated charity this year.

It’s a great boost to the appeal to raise around £150,000 to erect a statue, a lasting memorial, to the women who kept the munitions factories going while the men of Sheffield and beyond went off to fight two world wars.

Fundraising efforts at the black tie do, attended by around 240 of the region’s movers and shakers, is expected to pot around £20,000, helping the appeal edge ever closer towards its £150,000 target.

We support sport in Sheffield, not least in wishing the Blades good luck, so it’s good to know it’s reciprocated.